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84         HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

of God, it had justified them as the Law justified the Jew. He
still repeats the old delusion that the Greek philosopher had
* stolen' his best ideas from the books of Moses. But his real
belief is seen in many passages where he maintains that philosophy
is a gift not of devils but of God through the Logos, whose light
ever beams upon his earthly image, the intelligence of man. c Like
the burning-glass, its power of kindling is borrowed from the
sun.' "*

It was in this eclectic spirit that the Catechetical School grew
into influence and power. Primarily it seems to have been an
institution for the instruction of catechumens preparing for
baptism, such as was common throughout the churches of the
Empire. But towards the end of the Second Century it broad-
ened its basis and became a school of religious and secular learning
attended by students of both sexes and all ages, under Pantsenus,
a Stoic convert to Christianity, and afterwards Clement. Under
Origen (185-254), " the Prince of Christian learning in the Third
Century/' who succeeded his master Clement in 202 at the age
of eighteen, it rose to a position of commanding importance. The
general character of the instruction given at this time may be
inferred from a disciple's account of the school established by him
in Csesarea when he was forced by persecution to leave Alexandria,
The course of the more advanced students, covering a period of
some four years, shows plainly the influence of Plato in the order
of studies. It began with a training in grammar and logic, fol-
lowed by a thorough grounding in geometry, physics and astron-
omy, leading up to a comparative treatment of philosophy and
especially of ethics from the Christian point of view, and culmina-
ting in a careful study of the Scriptures.

The influence of the Catechetical School was great and far-
reaching. Through it Christianity became for the first time a
definite factor in the culture of the world and at the same time
took up into itself all that was best in Greek science and philosophy.
The Western Church was least affected by it Its characteristic
distrust of learning made it suspicious of the School as a focus of
heretical opinion, (" School" and " heresy " indeed were some-
times regarded as synonyms.) But even in the West it made a
deep impression on the thought of theologians like Augustine*
which helped to reconcile the Church to scholarship, and

 C. Bigg, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, pp. 4,7-4^